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Shutdown Corner Offseason Blueprints: Denver Broncos

NFL: AFC Championship-New England Patriots at Denver Broncos
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(USA Today Sports Images)

After the Seattle Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII, all 32 teams officially entered the offseason and started plotting how they could position themselves for a shot at Super Bowl XLIX. Shutdown Corner will look at the offseason blueprint for each of the 32 NFL teams, presenting one team a day (using the 2014 draft order, starting with the Houston Texans and finishing with the Seahawks), leading you right up to the start of free agency on Tuesday.

DENVER BRONCOS

2013 record: 13-3

Projected current salary-cap space (according to OverTheCap.com): $25 million under the cap

Key free agents: WR Eric Decker, RB Knowshon Moreno, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, S Mike Adams, G Zane Beadles, WR Andre Caldwell, OLB Shaun Phillips

Possible salary-cap casualties: CB Champ Bailey (already cut), G Chris Kuper, TE Joel Dreessen

Draft situation: The Broncos have the 31st overall pick of the first round, and own their own pick in every round.

[Be sure to check out Shutdown Corner's NFL free-agent rankings. Click here for the list of offensive players, and click here for the list of defensive and special teams players]

Revisiting 2013:  For some reason the attitude about the Broncos after the 2013 season is they need major work this offseason. That's ridiculous. Sure, they went up against a better Seattle team in the Super Bowl and got destroyed. But this is still a team that has been the top seed in the AFC in back-to-back years and might be a Joe Flacco-to-Jacoby Jones miracle from two Super Bowl appearances with Peyton Manning.

Manning won another MVP award last season as he set records for passing yards and passing touchdowns in a season, Denver had the highest scoring offense in NFL history and won an AFC championship. They're just fine.

And remember, they went 13-3 mostly without ....

Reasons for optimism: How many teams are adding two proven first-team All-Pro players this offseason? I'll make it easy for you: The Broncos. That's the list. They'll get offensive tackle Ryan Clady and outside linebacker Von Miller, who were on IR by the end of the regular season, back for the 2014 season. This is a very good team and they're adding an elite pass rusher and left tackle back to the roster for next season. Considering Manning has shown no signs of slowing down, no team is better situated to represent the AFC in next season's Super Bowl than Denver.

Glaring hole to fill:  Champ Bailey's release wasn't a surprise, considering he will turn 36 this year and is no longer worth the $9 million base salary he was due. But the Broncos' secondary, which is weakened a bit. Top cornerback Chris Harris tore his ACL in the playoffs, and there's no guarantee he'll be back for the season opener. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is a free agent. The safety position isn't one of the team's strengths. There's a lot of work to do in this area this offseason.

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(USA Today Sports Images)

Toughest decision:  At the end of the day, if the Broncos lose receiver Eric Decker as it appears they will, it's probably not all that difficult of an issue. Decker will be one of the hot names in a depleted free-agent market, and there's a good chance someone will give him a nice contract. The Broncos have other needs and let's be honest: Manning can turn an average receiver into a very good one. They should be able to replace Decker. But what made the Broncos special in 2013 was the vast array of weapons they had on offense and the quarterback who was feeding them the ball. Wes Welker isn't getting any younger, and re-signing free agent running back Knowshon Moreno won't be a high priority. Can the Broncos retool at the skill positions and still be as dominant on offense? We might find out.

Best-case offseason scenario: The best news will be no news when it comes to Clady and Miller (especially Miller, who had some foolish off-field issues last year). Other than knowing those players' rehabs are going smoothly, the Broncos need to add a player or two on defense, perhaps at safety and middle linebacker, and make sure there's a competent second outside receiver to play opposite Demaryius Thomas. This is a roster that needs only minor tweaks in the offseason.

Previous Blueprints: 32. Houston Texans; 31. Washington Redskins; 30. Jacksonville Jaguars; 29. Cleveland Browns; 28. Oakland Raiders; 27. Atlanta Falcons; 26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers; 25. Minnesota Vikings; 24. Buffalo Bills; 23. Detroit Lions; 22. Tennessee Titans; 21. New York Giants; 20. St. Louis Rams; 19. Chicago Bears; 18. Pittsburgh Steelers; 17. Dallas Cowboys; 16. Baltimore Ravens; 15. New York Jets; 14. Miami Dolphins; 13. Arizona Cardinals; 12. Green Bay Packers; 11. Philadelphia Eagles; 10. Kansas City Chiefs; 9. Cincinnati Bengals; 8. San Diego Chargers; 7. Indianapolis Colts; 6. New Orleans Saints; 5. Carolina Panthers; 4. New England Patriots; 3. San Francisco 49ers

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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